Over the course of 11 years, the Cdn$7.5M Guyana Basic Education Teacher Training Project (GBET) has facilitated the training of 1,256 education supervisors and teachers in the Distance Education Management Programme.
A simple closing ceremony was held on Wednesday at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) which was a major stakeholder in the project. “The GBET project has provided an ideal example of the need to meet people where they are,” Olato Sam, Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Education, said.
The CIDA funded project was designed to improve the quality of basic education in Guyana by strengthening the basic education teacher training systems. “What is important to state at this juncture is that the Ministry Of Education is committed to sustaining the strides made in this programme,” Sam told the gathering of teachers who were part of the project and officials from the CPCE and the National Centre for Education Resource Development, the other stakeholder in the project.
“We must work with communities to ensure that they adapt these programmes as their own,” he added. Also, “We must extend the secondary distance education programme to the hinterland…and ensure that the result seen at the early childhood and primary level is extended throughout the education system,” Sam said.
GBET initially funded the delivery of the Distance Education Early Childhood and Primary programmes by the CPCE which was later taken over by the ministry. And, in 2008, CPCE began delivery of the Distance Education Academic Programme.
“It was really a great opportunity for us to have this programme, however; we were faced with advantages and disadvantages,” Vanessa Charles, a Santa Rosa Primary School teacher who benefited from the programme said. “Some advantages are we were made comfortable at home interacting with students, teachers, parents to achieve our goals. Adequate materials like books, modules were provided. Meals and accommodations were satisfactory; we had our own local tutors who understood our difficulties,” she added.
Generally, Charles said, participating in the project was less expensive and teachers were able to access local material to material to make learning effective. On the other hand, she said they were challenged by the travelling through unpredictable weather, to reach the centres, a lack of updated research materials and the inability to utilise the internet and other technology and limited tutor sessions held for long stretches apart, sometimes during instructional time.
GBET focused on the hinterland regions one, seven, eight and nine and riverain areas in Region Two. The Project is primarily for capacity building and through the numerous training programmes facilitated by both the Canadian and Caribbean consultants, the capacity of the staff at CPCE, NCERD and trained teachers in the hinterland were boosted, particularly their ability to deliver and manage distance education teacher training programmes.
During its lifespan, GBET through the distance education foundation programme upgraded 349 unqualified teachers from the hinterland to a level that allowed them to meet the entry requirements of the CPCE.
Meanwhile, the CPCE Distance Education Early Childhood and Primary programmes have produced 1,389 graduates from 2004 to 2010. According GBET Project Director Susan Sproule, the Project has also made possible the Associate in Education Degree programme, now being offered at CPCE; which was outside of its plan. The CPCE curriculum specialist will ensure that the curriculum developed through GBET will cohere with the new degree programme. Five of the six courses being offered in the first semester were developed through GBET’s technical programme, she added.